ASCII by Jason Scott

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The Presentation Presentation —

The other main “guy on stage in a room addressing an audience” presentation I did at Notacon this past weekend was a little stranger. But maybe you’ll dig it.

(Here’s a link to the page if the embedded player doesn’t work.)

Here’s how it came about.

I’ve attended a lot of presentations, watched them online and sat in person while people on some sort of stage wanted to transfer information. Some have been breathtaking and informative. The “breathtaking/informative” portion has not been a majority of the ones I’ve seen; let’s put it that way. Some of this is because I attend hacker conventions, which have a much lower barrier-to-stage than conventions where the speakers are being paid or being flown in or otherwise cared for. Sometimes people are on stage to get free tickets. Others honestly want to get information across to an audience but they focus entirely on dumping the information without considering the manner in which they do so.

I figured, what hey, my talks get generally positive marks in their realm, and I’m always into explaining things, so I offered to drop a bunch of tips on the audience, and specifically the upcoming weekend speakers, about what I knew about giving a good presentation.

I cranked on this one. I spent a lot of time collating my knowledge, and trying to make the presentation itself a good one. I’ll welcome reviews. Someone, the next day, apparently asked the registration desk where he could get a copy of the talk, so that’s nice to hear. Maybe you’ll get something out of it too.

This was recorded on an HD camera, but with no operator, so it’s OK recording, sound and video, but hardly a professional multi-camera setup. Good enough for this, though. Enjoy.

Categorised as: jason his own self

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  1. raindog151 says:


    This was really, really fascinating. I’ve only watched it once, with my dogs running around and my wife watching 30 rock in the background, and I will watch this once or twice more (as that’s how I best learn, sadly), but what I didn’t walk away with, is how do you make people care/be interested in/not be bored about what you’re talking about. I understand presenting well is the most important skill, as that will keep them engaged, but Tony Robbins can keep a group of people rapt for 45 minutes, but in the end I don’t really give a sh*t what he was saying, as I don’t buy it. To be fair, your speeches are far more objective than subjective. Is the basic premise to provide just enough information along with some interesting anecdotes in order to make the audience want to go home and wiki the source material (for example)?

    As i posted in my last comment, I loved the n64 platform study and the communication network speech at shmoocon a few years ago in DC, but what I didn’t walk away from this video with is the best way to connect the idea of the speech with how to make people actually take interest. I know you touched on it, and maybe like I said, I just need to to watch a few more times.

    That being said, can you summarize your theory between knowledge transfer and interest transfer?

    Sorry if this question seems a bit stupid given the speech, (the Q&A session answers some of this) but it’s how I’m built.

    Thanks from the drunk guy who you humored at the bar at shmoocon DC a few years ago, who hopes to do something like this someday.

    • Jason Scott says:

      I avoided going too much into content specifics because I don’t think it’s my place to tell people what subjects or information they need to get across. At a typical conference there are maybe 3-4 talks I might have an interest in, reading the descriptions. I either browse presentations on media after the talks are over, or I attend ones based on people who I know consistently give good shows (Bruce Potter, G. Mark Hardy, Renderman, and a slew of others). My opinions on what good topics are would be pretty specific. I guess if you hold me to it, I could suggest:

      Talks in which you have new ideas about a commonly held belief or technique, that changes the game.
      A heavily organic talk (presenting stories and anecdotes) about a way of life people might not know.
      A demonstration of something you’ve done that makes people want to go to your site and get more information.

      But I contend the framing is the big difference, the ability to take what you have and give it to the audience in a consistent, clear and informative-without-flooding-them tone. I can only do so much about the content itself.

  2. Ansgar Baldurson says:

    Great jeeorb dere Jason!

    I think the most basic requirement to giving a good presentation is that you pretend you’re trying to explain something to your ignorant friend; however, I’m not sure if this changes given a larger audience (say.. >100?).

    One thing I’ve done when I’m giving presentations during classes is ask the professor if I can allow the class to ask questions during my delivery.

    I’d like to find out what the capacity is for this kind of interaction before OSCD kicks in. Any thoughts? Perhaps the best way to find out is to just keep using this method until I reach maximum capacity.